“I’ll Be Back, Jack.”

Like every dog, Jack watches with anticipation for me to return whenever he sees me go.  “I’ll be back, Jack,” I assure him as he looks at me with somewhat mournful eyes.  If he had his way I would stay with him every moment of the day.

It was the same with the disciples of Jesus.  After the crucifixion, when they finally began to understand exactly who Jesus was and why He had come, there came the moment when He told them goodbye.  We read in Acts 1:9-11, “He was taken up into a cloud while they were watching, and they could no longer see Him.  As they strained to see Him rising into heaven, two white-robed men suddenly stood among them.  ‘Men of Galilee,’ they said, ‘why are you standing here staring into heaven?  Jesus has been taken from you into heaven, but someday, He will return from heaven in the same way you saw Him go!'”

As we enter the Easter season, we are reminded of this wonderful fact: Jesus is coming again.  We wait and watch.  We don’t know when He will come, but we know it will happen.   He will return and take us with Him.

When I leave Jack, he looks longingly, but he doesn’t stand gazing after me every moment I’m away.  He’s very busy.  He has hole digging to do, hard work keeping the birds from landing in his yard, and of course, there’s play time with his ball and frisbee.  He keeps busy, but every so often, he takes time to stand and watch for my return.  He looks for the signs: the sound of my car, the sight of me walking toward the house.  Oh, delight, when he sees the signs of my return.

It is the same with us.  We are busy with the things of life, both the mundane necessities as well as the ministry aspects we are involved in: but every now and again, we take time to stop and reflect.  We look for the signs of His return.  The signs are there, of course.  He is coming again.

As the song reminds us, “Oh what a day of rejoicing that will be.”

We Don’t Just Stand There

Everywhere I travel, I meet Christians who are excitedly talking about the Lord’s return. Jesus told His disciples to watch for the signs and be ready because He would come back to gather His own unto Himself. There have always been signs, but today, there are more signs than ever before. As we keep an eye on world events in politics and the economy, moral decline, and even weather conditions, Christians everywhere are feeling an excitement begin to churn within. Could it be? Will He return in our lifetime? Questions swirl in our minds; hope grows in our hearts.

However, even as we anxiously and joyfully await Jesus’ return, let us not make the mistake that so many have made in the past. Although Jesus told us of the signs, He never pinpointed an exact day. Even He said that only His Father knew the time of His return. But the signs! When we see them, what can we do but look up and wait? That’s where the mistake comes. We don’t simply look up and wait; but in our excitement we must — get back to work — while we’re waiting.

Remember when Jesus rose from the dead? Then, after 40 days, He returned to heaven, rising up into the sky as the crowd was watching. It’s recorded in Acts 1:1-11. Look carefully at verses 10-11, “As they were straining their eyes to see Him, two white-robed men suddenly stood there among them. They said, ‘Men of Galilee, why are you standing here staring at the sky? Jesus has been taken away from you into heaven. And someday, just as you saw Him go, He will return!'”

The question the angels put to the crowd is also for us today. We watch for the signs that Jesus is getting ready to return. We want to be ready, living right and holy, so we’re not ashamed and embarrassed at His return; but while we wait, we continue working every day to the best of our ability. We work hard to live as our Father in heaven instructs us. We work hard to share the love of God with those around us. We work hard to let us others know that Jesus is the only way that we may find forgiveness of sins and the promise of eternal life in heaven with Him.

It’s like the farmer. I wonder if there has ever been a more strenuous occupation than that of the hard working farmer. He puts seed into the ground. He waters and cares for the soil. Then — he waits. He believes with all his heart that the seed will grow. Soon, something sprouts from the ground. Signs of produce coming! So, what does the farmer do? Does he stand there, staring, waiting? Of course not! He works hard to keep the fields free of weeds. He works hard to prepare His equipment for harvest. He works hard to make his barn ready to store the produce. He watches the signs with great excitement, knowing that what he waits for will come soon; and while he waits, he works hard to prepare for that moment.

We see the signs around us. We know Jesus could return any moment. Therefore, we work all the harder to keep our hearts ready to meet Him at that most glorious and joyful of moments. As it tells us in I Thessalonians 4:16, when we least expect it, the trumpet will sound, and we will be gathered with Him in the sky. Keep watching — but work hard — be ready!